I was loath to use the words "real change," because, in my view, that term has been sullied. But as a political engaged citizen, I think it's time that I reclaimed those words. The student lending crisis is not being solved, and that's why we must insist that our public servants turn their attention to our needs. Real change should no be out of reach for us.
Furthermore, if there are any countries that may be considering adopting the way in which the U.S. funds students who pursue higher education, it is my hope that this entire paper, " The Plight of Current Borrowers: An Appeal For Immediate Relief," will serve as a cautionary tale.
Currently the U.S. faces grave problems. The entire structure and stability of the country, in my view, is enormously vulnerable. It is out of balance, thanks to thirty plus years of excessive deregulation, which allowed for the growth of a despicable type of corporatocracy. The result of this deregulation enabled U.S. agencies to lay with the very groups they should have been policing. Instead of maintaining boundaries and enforcing policies that would protect U.S. citizens, their behavior gave way to the most despicable forms of cronyism and nepotism. (Former employees, for instance, of Sallie Mae have burrowed themselves into the U.S. Department of Education, and it is certain that these individuals are not there to help student debtors). There is reason for why people despise government in the U.S., for it has turned a blind eye on it citizens for decades. But that does not mean that government is by nature corrupt and wicked. If there is a way to solve this issue within a specific agency, it is that which belongs to things pertaining to the funding of higher education, and what role the U.S. Government ought to be playing.
One reader recently told me that education and the cause for which I'm fighting is really nothing compared to the larger global issues that the U.S. is facing now. But I beg to differ.
I rarely if ever discuss my own personal struggles as a student debtor. However, the time has come for me to share. After all, so many of you have opened up to me. In so doing, you've invited me into your world of secrets, telling me the most intimate aspects of your everyday life struggles vis-a-vis the student lending crisis. And so it is my turn.
I write this entry as an expat who longs to one day return and work for others in my own country. As I've said before, it is a privilege and an honor to be teaching in the R.O.K. However, I'd much rather be carrying out good deeds and fulfilling my civic duty in the U.S.A. But at this juncture, my own country has made it impossible for me - and millions of others - to earn a decent wage and live a decent life. Neither my readers nor I feel entitled to enormous creature comforts (we've all been unjustly accused of that on hundreds and hundreds of walls about student loan debt). We are only asking for a fair chance, and hoping that our voices will be heard inside the beltway.
I long to be home! Oh, how I long to be home!
However, at this point I may never return, the reasons for which pertain to my personal finances and my political fury. As for finding a real career in my country, I searched exhaustively for one that would allow me to:
(a) flourish intellectually;
(b) put my degrees - especially my training in the social sciences- to work;
(c) continue building on years of professional experience;
(c) help others;
(d) and help contribute to building a better, more just U.S. society.
Like so many other educated professionals, I finally gave up. It is degrading and depressing (as one of my colleagues said last night to me) to search for a job and end up getting no where, and it's not easy sharing that truth with all of you. I recall how the days would pass with the phone never ringing. It was infuriating, that silence. I remember how I sent out specifically tailored cover letters and resumes, all of which - save for a few - were left unanswered. I did have some interviews. But these potential employers were quick to let me know that I was one of 10 candidates. Even when I made it to the second round of interviews, there would be 5 of us at that point. These interviews were grueling, because there were so many additional steps. When I was finally offered a job in Korea, I was in shock with how quickly that offer was extended to me. In the States, I had to write pieces, go for second interviews, etc., etc., etc. I grew tired of jumping through so many hoops. I began to wonder: what's wrong with me? Haven't I done everything right? I have all these degrees, all this professional experience, so what am I lacking? (Incidentally, there is a great blog called "But I Did Everything Right!" and it discusses these issues in the field of law).
My story does not have a tragic ending (for some debtors that's not the case). However, I did have to make the most difficult decision in my life - leave my country for a job abroad. I sold almost all of my belongings, left my cat behind with lovely people, and headed for work in Korea. Here, I have discovered an entire community of student loan debt refugees. That is both comforting and unnerving.
Stay tuned for the final installment of my paper.